How to get a free one way trip when you book a round trip United Award.

In a followup to my article on How to Check Star Alliance Award Availability on, today I wanted to show you how you can add a free one way trip onto every round trip award booking you make with United.  I used this trick to score a one way first class flight from Miami to Reno to go to Burning Man this year.  Here is how it works: United uses a region based system where for example anywhere in the continental U.S. (including Alaska and Canada) to anywhere in Europe is the same amount of miles required for an award. United Award Chart So a coach award ticket from New York City to Paris costs the same as one from Los Angeles to Paris: 60,000 miles round trip.  It’s the same 60K for New York to Moscow, or Los Angeles to Moscow, or even Anchorage, Alaska to Moscow!

United round trip awards also have routing rules that allow a “stopover” and 2 “open jaws” which is why this trick works.  I’m not going to cover those topics today but will in a future article. Today I am going to show you a simple example that you can use next time you book a united round trip award:

Let’s say you wanted to take a romantic trip from New York to Paris for Valentine’s Day 2014.  You can get non stop flights from EWR to CDG leaving on February 11th and coming back on February 18th for 60,000 miles and $89.40.

United EWR CDG Award

If you change the itinerary to a Multi City Itinerary and add a flight 2 months after your trip from New York to Los Angeles, look what happens!

Multiple Destinations

United EWR CDG LAX Award

The price basically stays the same at 60,000 Miles and $91.90!  But it is even more flexible than that!  You can put the free one way BEFORE the trip if you want.  For example, you could start with a one way from LAX to EWR before the round trip to Paris.

United LAX EWR CDG Award

You would just need to buy a one way ticket to Los Angeles to turn this award ticket into two trips!  And the free one way ticket will be in the same class of service as the award ticket.  This means if you did the New York to Paris legs in business class then the leg from New York to Los Angeles would also be in business (or first if the plane only has two classes available)!

Just to see how far I could push this, I made a booking starting in Anchorage, Alaska going to New York then stopping, then continuing onto Moscow, Russia, stopping, then coming back to New York.  The total cost for this 19,160 mile trip: 60,000 Miles and $100! Basically the same cost as if we just did New York to Paris round trip.  Amazing.

United ANK EWR MOS Award

These are just a few examples, but you can use any of these techniques within whatever zone you wanted to travel in.  For example, you could do Hong Kong to Bangkok to Miami and back to Bangkok for only 65,000 miles and $139.  There are unlimited possibilities so try to think outside of the box and remember to never book a round trip award on United without a free one way!

Author: John Butler

I live in Miami Beach but love travelling all over the world.